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Dramatistic Approaches to Political Communication

Dramatism is an approach to thinking about political behavior that employs the metaphor of “life as theater.” Most dramatists, however, do not consider their mode of understanding to be a metaphor; they believe that the framework accurately describes the behavior of politics. A playwright uses language in dialogue to create a world within which his/her characters act. Like the playwright, politicians and citizens use language to organize the world they encounter and within which they act. With this language political actors characterize real events of the world, shape understanding of them, organize relationships of power around them, and guide response to them. Political conflict arises from the differences in these interpretations and responses.

Dramatism is part of an influential intellectual movement in the 20th century: contextualism. ...

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